Graphics & Sound
Although the game still uses the same core engine that the first IL-2: Sturmovik did, it has aged extremely well and remains one of, if not the most beautiful flight sim engines ever. Pacific Fighters looks as good as any modern game, especially if the player fiddles around with the config files and turns on full shader and tree detail. The water can be absolutely gorgeous, reflecting ships, explosions, shadows from low-flying aircraft and giving a believable wave effect - though the waves, unfortunately, don't change size. One of the most impressive experiences in the game is the act of flying by night through a thunderstorm. Trying to tell land from water is difficult enough without being distracted by the impressive lighting effects on your instruments and cockpit from lightning.
The cockpits, and the aircraft around them, are crafted with the painstaking detail that only a born, bred and trained rivet-counter could make. The aircraft and interiors even show signs of wear, like worn paint in interiors, plus dirt and oil stains on the exteriors. No doubt a good portion of Pacific Fighters' sales go to hobbyist aircraft modelers looking for accurate source material on their favorite World War II planes. All aircraft in the game have an impressive variety of damage models. Each plane has several skins that show increasing levels of damage, often on a specific part like a wing, the forward fuselage, or the tail. Aircraft can lose parts too, like the vertical stabilizer, an aileron, an engine, a wing, or an aileron.
For a game so concerned with aircraft, there was an impressive effort made to model ground vehicles and ships. Tanks, while perhaps not as pretty as in some games, are recognizable, to scale, and have all the basics covered - rotating tracks, turrets and even capabilities (no way a BT-6 tank is going to take on a King Tiger, for example). Ships are even more detailed, with the most effort spent on carriers but battleships and destroyers are also exquisite. 1C has done up several historical classes of ships, like the King George V class of battleships, the Lexington class heavy carrier and of course Japanese counterparts, as well as "generic" battleships and carriers.
As with all 1C games, anti-air artillery is far too accurate and colorful to be believable, but it makes for some extremely impressive ground effects. Ships in particular are capable of dishing out devastating walls of lead up at enemy aircraft, firing a variety of AAA guns in bursts and patterns that quickly decimate formations of planes.
The sound effects are quite excellent though they're the exact same ones used in previous games. For all we know they're the real sounds, though a few too many aircraft use the same engine noises. All 4-engine bombers, for example, sound the same. Many fighters might as well have identical engines and propellers for all the difference in sound that they have. It's not that we expect them to sound different from the outside, but it would be nice to hear
that you're inside a Bf-109 with a DB-601
inverted V12 engine, rather than a P-47 with the 18-cylinder double wasp radial Pratt & Whitney R-2800